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Remade in Hollywood

Remade in Hollywood: The Global Chinese Presence in Transnational Cinemas

Kenneth Chan
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Remade in Hollywood
    Book Description:

    The dramatic surge of Chinese visibility in Hollywood has been spurred by Sino-chic talents such as directors Ang Lee, John Woo, Wong Kar-wai, Wayne Wang, and Zhang Yimou, and stars such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chow Yun-fat, Gong Li, Zhang Ziyi, and Michelle Yeoh. Analyzing well-known films by Chinese stars and crew, and the influence they have had on Hollywood directors, Kenneth Chan describes how post-1997 notions of Chinese identity and cultural genres have been reinvented and repackaged by major US studios. Highlighting numerous contradictions and cultural anxieties evident in transnational Hollywood films, Chan suggests that many Chinese stars and directors have made painful compromises to get their films successfully launched into the global capitalist stream of cultural commodities.

    eISBN: 978-988-8052-73-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. 1 Introduction: Remaking Chinese Cinemas, Hollywood Style
    (pp. 1-32)

    When Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) leapt onto global screens, many saw it as a cinematic event that heralded the unprecedented arrival of Chinese cinemas in Hollywood. As part of the recent “Asian invasion”¹ of the American multiplex, where mainstream audiences are now eagerly taking to the various Asian cinemas, this Chinese cultural presence dominated the invasion, thanks in part to the migration of numerous stars, directors, and various players from Hong Kong’s film industry: a professional diaspora spurred by the 1997 British handover of Hong Kong to mainland China. Since I began my research in 2000 on...

  5. 2 Visualizing Hong Kong: Diasporic Cinematic Gaze on the 1997 Handover
    (pp. 33-56)

    July 1, 1997, the day of the British handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, a day of historical reckoning, has come and gone. The critical and media discourses that swirled around the event, particularly those that were wary of the mainland Chinese government’s intentions towards the new SAR (Special Administrative Region), initially invoked the notion of “crisis” to frame the historicity of the moment. Much of the anxiety over the fate of the Hong Kong people lay in the terrifying and undeniable fact that the Chinese political machinery was willing, in the past, to shed innocent...

  6. 3 Facing the Red Dragon: Hollywood’s 1997 Response to the Hong Kong Handover
    (pp. 57-74)

    As a complement to my earlier examination of Hong Kong diasporic filmmakers’ deployment of cinematic visuality as a mode of cultural political intervention, this chapter turns its focus onto Hollywood’s response to the Hong Kong handover, by looking particularly at three films released in 1997: Jon Avnet’s Red Corner, Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Seven Years in Tibet, and Martin Scorsese’s Kundun. While these films are clearly part of Hollywood’s continuing fascination with Chinese/Tibetan politics, culture, and spirituality — Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1987) and Little Buddha (1993) come quickly to mind — they also represent a strategically timed reaction to the return of...

  7. 4 The Global Return of the Wuxia pian (Chinese Sword-Fighting Movie)
    (pp. 75-104)

    The wuxia pian, or the Chinese sword-fighting movie, occupies a special place in the cultural memory of my childhood. Growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Singapore, I remember with great fondness escaping from the mind-numbing tedium of the British-based education school I attended, and from the blazing heat of the tropical sun to the air-conditioned coolness of the neighborhood cinema. (This was long before multiplexes became fashionable.) Inevitably, a sword-fighting or kung fu flick from Hong Kong would be screening. The exoticism of one-armed swordsmen, fighting Shaolin monks, and woman warriors careening weightlessly across the screen...

  8. 5 Enter the Triads: American Cinema’s New Racialized Criminal Other
    (pp. 105-128)

    As a genre category, police, detective, and crime films constitute a robust tradition in Hollywood’s history.¹ Everyone loves a sordid tale of crime, where an Otherness of illegality (which may often be further associated with a racial, national, ideological, sexual, and/or cultural Otherness within the United States) is briefly entertained, before its eventual safe re-containment through the requisite triumph of the law in the classic Hollywood happy ending.² The box-office success of this formula must definitely have had an impact on other national traditions of popular cinema. Witness, for instance, the way audiences have lapped up tales of police intrigue...

  9. 6 Hollywood’s Sino-Chic: Kung Fu Parody, Mimicry, and Play in Cross-Cultural Citationality
    (pp. 129-156)

    Kung fu Sino-chic was the hot commodity hitting theaters across America in the summer of 2008 as DreamWorks Animation unleashed the lovably rotund but surprisingly dexterous Po on eager young audiences. Unfortunately, Kung Fu Panda, starring the vocal talents of the amazing Jack Black as the main character, offers only a marginally entertaining parody of the kung fu comedy genre¹ popularized by Jackie Chan in the 1970s through classics of Hong Kong cinema such as Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978) and Drunken Master (1978). Of course, Kung Fu Panda is clearly not original in its parody (that is if...

  10. 7 Chinese Supernaturalism: Mythic Ethnography and the Mystical Other
    (pp. 157-174)

    Remaking Asian horror is presently big business in Hollywood. Hideo Nakata’s Ringu (1998) first crawled onto American cinema screens as Gore Verbinski’s The Ring (2002), terrifying audiences enough to bring them back for more, thus conjuring a host of other similar haunting remakes: The Grudge (2004), The Ring 2 (2005), Dark Water (2005), The Grudge 2 (2006), and The Eye (2008). Jaded horror fans seek a different and unusual kind of thrill to jolt them out of Hollywood’s tired and predictable formulae of vampires, zombies, and exorcisms. What these new Asian horror remakes bring to the fear of the supernatural...

  11. Coda: Global Cinematic Technologies of Ethnic (Un)Representation
    (pp. 175-180)

    In place of a conclusion, I have chosen a “coda,” the brief tail end of a musical piece that does not just reiterate themes but also introduces new ones with the purpose of envisioning, or more appropriately in my case, speculating, the future of the Chinese in Hollywood and, thus, penciling in possible lines of future critical inquiry. Like most academics, I do detest going out on a limb to connect the invisible dots that extend into an uncertain future² — as the maker of popular cinematic taste, Hollywood is highly volatile in its accommodation and restructuring of filmic trends; who...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 181-218)
  13. Filmography
    (pp. 219-228)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-244)
  15. Index
    (pp. 245-259)